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Aging Microbiome Program

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One of the basic mechanisms shared in age-related diseases (ARDs) and geriatric syndromes is chronic low-grade inflammation called inflamm-aging. This inflammation impacts immune function leading to a gradual deterioration of the immune system, called immunosenescence. Currently both inflamm-aging and immunosenescence stand at the origin of most ARDs, such as infections, cancers, and neurodegenerative disorders and are fertile ground for the development of diseases mostly considered as age-related. Dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance/maladaptation, of the intestinal microbiome might just serve as the stimuli for fueling

inflamm-aging, and accordingly it has become a major focus of aging research. Increased proportions of pro- and reduced proportions of anti-inflammatory bacteria in the intestine are associated with systemic inflammatory states and have been linked to many ARDs. Dysbiosis in the gut might also serve to promote pathogen colonization and a reservoir for spread of the pathogen leading to disease.  

We have published findings demonstrating how older adults living in nursing home setting develop a pro-dysbiotic dysbiosis that is influenced by the length of time at a facility, age, frailty, and types of medications they are exposed to. One particular pathogen we have studied, Clostridioides difficile, is prevalent as a colonizing pathogen in the nursing home setting and associates with a microbiome with higher abundances of inflammatory-associated bacterial taxa and lower abundances of taxa with anti-inflammatory or symbiotic properties. Our current work funded by NIH-NIA (https://grantome.com/grant/NIH/K23-AG057790-02) is studying the microbiome of older adults as they transition into the nursing home and identifying which factors are associated with a resident becoming a C. difficile carrier. Ongoing work focuses on how the gut microbiome interacts with both colonizing pathogens and the aging immune system. Manipulating the gut microbiome may prove to be a key strategy in the reduction of pathogen colonization within the nursing home.

Selected Publications

The Nursing Home Older Adult Gut Microbiome Composition Shows Time-dependent Dysbiosis and is Influenced by Medication Exposures, Age, Environment, and Frailty. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34125200/

Aging, Frailty, and the Microbiome: How Dysbiosis Influences Human Aging and Disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33307030/

The nursing home elder microbiome stability and associations with age, frailty, nutrition, and physical location.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29134939/

The High Prevalence of Clostridioides difficile among Nursing Home Elders Associates with a Dysbiotic Microbiome. Gut Microbes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007149/